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Ethnic Parties, Ethnic Tensions? Results of an Original Survey Panel Study in Romania
Ethnic diversity is often seen to be detrimental to national unity, especially if ethnicity is used as basis for political mobilization: ethnic parties in electoral competition in particular are thought to increase the salience of ethnic differences and with it ethnic tensions. Yet the individual links of this psychological chain have not previously been examined together. This paper employs original longitudinal survey data to simultaneously assess changes in ingroup identification, outgroup aversion, and national identification over the election period within one ethnically diverse society: Romania. While ingroup identification does increase, ethnic relations do not worsen. On the contrary, outgroup aversion decreases while national identification increases, for minority and majority Romanian citizens alike. We explain these findings with the common ingroup identity model from social psychology: elections in ethnically diverse societies do not only increase the salience of ethnic groups but may also increase that of the common superordinate, national identity.
Anaïd Flesken is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol, where she holds an ESRC Future Research Leader Fellowship with the project “Ethnic Parties and National Unity” (Grant ES/L008947/1). Before moving to Bristol in 2015, she completed her PhD at the University of Exeter in 2013 and joined the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg, as Research Fellow.